The Soviet Union: The History and Legacy of the USSR from World War I to the End of the Cold War, Charles River Editors
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The Soviet Union: The History and Legacy of the USSR from World War I to the End of the Cold War

Author: Charles River Editors

Narrator: Jim Walsh

Unabridged: 6 hr 36 min

Format: Digital Audiobook

Publisher: Findaway Voices

Published: 08/05/2023

Genre: History - Europe - Russia & The Former Soviet Union

Synopsis

For 30 years, much of the West looked on with disdain as the Bolsheviks took power in Russia and created and consolidated the Soviet Union. As bad as Vladimir Lenin seemed in the early 20th century, Joseph Stalin was so much worse that Churchill later remarked of Lenin, “Their worst misfortune was his birth... their next worst his death.” Before World War II, Stalin consolidated his position by frequently purging party leaders (most famously Leon Trotsky) and Red Army leaders, executing hundreds of thousands of people at the least. And in one of history’s greatest textbook examples of the idea that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, Stalin’s Soviet Union allied with Britain and the United States to defeat Hitler in Europe during World War II.

Stalin ruled with an iron fist for nearly 30 years before his death in 1953, which may or may not have been murder, just as Stalin was preparing to conduct another purge. With his death, Soviet strongman and long-time Stalinist Nikita Khrushchev (1894-1971), who had managed to stay a step ahead of Stalin’s purges if only because he participated in them, became the Soviet premier. Meanwhile, little is remembered in the public imagination about Brezhnev in comparison to Mikhail Gorbachev, Vladimir Lenin, or Joseph Stalin, despite the fact Brezhnev ruled the USSR from 1964-1982, longer than any Soviet leader other than Stalin. 

After going through three elderly leaders in three years, Mikhail Gorbachev was chosen as the new General Secretary at the relatively youg age of 54 in March 1985. Gorbachev hoped to build the Soviet economy to relieve the persistent shortages of consumer goods it faced, which were caused by enormous military spending of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev tried to introduce some economic reforms, but they were blocked by communist hardliners. Gorbachev then came to the belief that the Soviet economy could not improved without political reform as well.

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